When I freelance on film sets as a technician, I rub shoulders with a lot of celebrities. I worked second unit for X-man 2000. On main unit for that same show, I heard a lot of crewmembers were sent home because Halley Berry was provocatively dressed. They could not stop staring at her—too smoking hot and sexy!
After SARS Fest, I worked on Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which starred Lindsay Lohan. During SARS, a whole community of film technicians in Toronto were unemployed for the balance of the year. When I was on Drama Queen, they filmed at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres. At that time, they even closed down Yonge Street to get the shot, which was then unheard of. On close inspection, Ms. Lohan was age 17, short, and pudgy. That year, I had an analogue pager and Ms. Lohan had a state of the art cell phone. She paced the room with it, while the crew ate. I remember her classic line which was the understatement of 2003. “I’m missing a premier to be here,” she purred into her phone. That was a long time ago and now she has gone on to jail, rehab, and a Playboy shoot. It’s not an easy life being an actor, so let’s all wish her well.
In time, I worked on a Michael Myers’TheLove Guru. I hear stories of Mike Myers in bars, where he comes in, buys everyone beers, and plays videogames. On Love Guru, however, if you looked at MM, as they called him, he had you sent home. It’s difficult to comprehend a hometown favorite, treating his own fellow citizens with disdain. I remember setting up a scene at the Scarborough Bluffs. All crewmembers belong to different departments and everyone has a walkie talkie. “MM is on his way to set,” said a voice on the headset. “MM is going along the beach.” Everyone was tense. “MM is on set.” Apprehension and panic set in. “Remember don’t look at MM!”
When they filmed a scene at the Air Canada Center, the union members all used seniority they had, which was important at that time. When they unloaded the equipment into the ACC, they had to wait around a lot because the Maple Leafs were playing. True to form, if you wait around long enough, you’ll get bored. So when they got restless, they looked at him, and MM had them sent home. According to rumor, after they filmed that night, MM had a helicopter pick him up and fly him to a zoo in Bowmansville where he had to admire some elephants. People wonder why some actors stop working!
This past year, I worked on a TV show that I can’t remember. One of the actors told me he sparred with Russell Crowe on Cinderella Man. “I remember what he said to me,” said the actor, as I quizzed him some more. “He said: ‘I started where you are at.” The actor reflected further. “And Russell knew his stuff too!”
I spent a lot of time and days on Falling Skies which starred Noah Wyle, but this show never saw the light of day. I worked on a Valerie Bertinelli’s Mow True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet “How is she to work with,” I asked a crewmember in another department.
“If you don’t know what you are doing,” came a reply, “She will take charge. She has a take charge attitude!”
On that same show, I approached a tech in another department. I was sure I knew who he was and finally he relented. “I’m the drummer for David Wilcox!”
“Why are you here?!”
“Wilcox is one of the best bluesman in Canada.”
“Agreed,” said I, the owner of much of his CD’s.
“But David goes to perform, you don’t know if he will be sober, or not.”
Last year, you would find me on a show called Down the Road Again, the sequel to the Canadian classic Goin Down the Road. On this show, we filmed a scene in the Cadillac Lounge in Toronto. Our department had to black out the windows and make this bar look like a strip bar. So the main character was on the cell. “I’m going to make things right,” he said. “I’m going to set this straight once and for all!” Behind him was a hot woman, naked and on a recently installed stripper pole.
This year I worked on a memorable show, Flight of the Butterfly, an IMAX film. On this show, they would shoot a scene where a young boy in vintage 1950’s outfit would run to a cliff and sit down to view what was above him. All through filming on this show, an animal wrangler would be out of camera range, lying on his back, releasing butterflies. Between takes, the director had wacky orders. “Don’t throw the Butterflies; let them fly naturally into camera view!”
This show required countless takes and someone always had to pursue a wayward butterfly, catch it, and bring it back for another take, or more shots. It was said during a tense time, a five dollar reward was issued to any crewmember that could catch a much needed butterfly! This same show was filmed on a cornfield outside of Toronto, where a crop duster was used. Such an aircraft had to dive bomb an erected scaffold where a camera was fastened to it. Yes, it was required that the butterflies were used in such a scene. Gordon Pinsent had a cameo for that show! Look out for him!That is the Hollywood North Celebrity Gossip that never made it into the Headlines! That is all you will get out of me! Adios!
Paul Collins, author of Mack Dunstan’s Inferno / Mystery of Everyman’s Way
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